When Tauranga man John Wylie heard of the Tauranga City Council's proposal to close Our Place, he decided he needed to do his part to help the public air their opinion.
Wylie set up a petition called 'Stand up, be heard and stop the closure of 'Our Place' Tauranga CBD' a week ago and it has since collected 4359 signatures.
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Tauranga's elected members voted in favour of canning CBD container village Our Place - by the narrowest of margins - on May 28.
The vote was a 5-all split, with councillor John Robson abstaining, meaning Mayor Tenby Powell's vote in favour became the casting vote and the motion was carried.
However, Tauranga residents will get their say during the public consultation process.
Wylie said he started the petition because he "wanted to do something rather than just sit back and moan about it".
"Our Place is a vibrant and diverse wee pocket in a dying CBD. It is filled with smiles, laughter and the hum of people chatting. It provides a safe meeting spot for all age ranges, great food and a casual bar.
"At a time when we should be supporting small businesses it seems crazy to axe the area. I am not naive to the fact that the area has been and still is heavily subsidised and been given a significant amount of cash, however, don't just close it down - the council needs to open some communication with the guys there and work with them to keep it open.
"There will be many disappointed people in the community if it goes."
Our Place is run by Chris and Rachelle Duffy of Little Big Events. They lease the Willow St site of the demolished council office building for $1 a year.
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They pay operating costs - including leasing containers - and collect rent from tenants, mostly hospitality and retail shops.
Since opening in August 2018, Our Place has struggled to become self-sustaining and has received funding top-ups from the council, which has frustrated some CBD business owners who saw the village as competition.
Upon learning the number of signatures on the petition, Powell said it was pleasing to see so many people taking an interest, the purpose of having a public consultation, but also encouraged them to consider all the factors.
"We do need feedback from the community on Our Place but there are two competing forces here effectively.
There's a decision for the community to make but I hope they make it on the facts that yes it is vibrant but it means that ratepayers are going to have to continue to prop it because it isn't financially viable and hasn't been for some time."
"One is that Our Place is fully subsidised by the council and it needs another round of funding for it to continue. Ratepayers will yet again be paying for Our Place to continue if that's what the community wishes.
"The second point is many of the city retailers are opposed to Our Place as a competitive entity in many forms to what they offer and yet it's a council subsidised piece of land. They don't have rent to pay whereas many of the retailers who are leasing offices and buildings do have rent to pay and therefore greater overheads to pay."
Powell said he was well aware of the positive effect the container village had on the CBD but the financial forces at play had to be considered.
"I'm the first to say that yes it absolutely adds a vibrancy to the CBD, there's no doubt about that, but it will require new funding to make it viable.
"Our Place still doesn't work financially and it's very important we get that message out there. There's a decision for the community to make but I hope they make it on the facts that yes it is vibrant but it means that ratepayers are going to have to continue to prop it because it isn't financially viable and hasn't been for some time," Powell said.
The petition can be found at: www.change.org/p/mayor-tenby-tauranga-city-council-stand-up-be-heard-and-stop-the-closure-of-our-place-on-tauranga-cbd